I told you so. I know it’s not polite to say that, but I did.
I told you that the greatest danger to Jews today is not anti-Semitism but chilul Hashem. We all focus on and freak out about the speech Farrakhan recently gave in which he said horrible things about Jews, yet again. We all overreact to recent anti-Jewish acts in France but ignore that a wide spectrum of French political parties recently held a mass rally against anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, Jews all over the place are doing things that cause chilul Hashem, desecration of G-d’s name, that bring shame, shandah on the Jewish people. Which brings me to the second thing I told you so.
Famous Jewish men are pigs. Not all, of course, but way too many. Indeed, it would now be easier to come up with a list of famous Jewish men not accused of sexual misconduct than those who have been, everyone from the head of CBS to the official spokesman for the prime minister of Israel to prominent journalists and Hollywood machers and well known authors. And now we have Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots who was caught very literally with his pants down.
Kraft, who has made much of how involved with Jewish causes and Israel he is, who has a stadium in Jerusalem named after him, was found to have engaged in the most tawdry of behaviors. Visiting a massage parlor in a strip mall to have women who are treated horribly play with his bris. And the whole world knows it. Indeed, it’s on video. That, my friends, is chilul Hashem.
Finally, I have been saying for quite a while now that the democratic values, the Jewish character of Israel is in danger, thanks to Bibi passing scary laws, going around the Supreme Court, shutting down a TV station that criticized him, engaging in all kinds of financial shenanigans, slamming law enforcement, cozying up to the worst dictators on the planet.
Now so desperate to hold on to power is he, so devoid of any sense of decency is he, that he has actually made a political alliance with a racist, hateful fringe party, embraced them, brought them into his campaign for reelection, is counting on their racist followers to help provide the margin of victory that will allow him to form a government which will include members who are banned from entering the United States.
That there literally is no low to which Bibi will not sink was shown clearly by his forming a united ultra-right-wing party that has paved the way for Jewish supremacists from the Jewish Power party to make it into the next Knesset.
As the Jewish news service JTA put it, “This is an unprecedented development in Israel’s history and is equivalent to a U.S. president cutting a political deal with David Duke, the former KKK leader. The prime minister and the ruling Likud Party are legitimizing a racist, xenophobic and homophobic fringe party in hopes of bolstering a right-wing bloc after the elections.
“Jewish Power was formed by the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the former leader of the Kach party, which was banned from running in Israel’s 1988 elections and designated a terror organization by the Israeli government in 1994. Kach was also blacklisted as a terrorist organization in the U.S., Canada and the EU.”
What Bibi has done is make common cause with people like Baruch Marzel, a senior member of Jewish Power, who was chairman of Kahane’s party after he was murdered. Like Itamar Ben Gvir, another senior member of Jewish Power, who was convicted of supporting a terror organization and inciting racism. Like Michael Ben Ari, a former member of the Knesset from Jewish Power, who was denied a visa to the U.S. due to his membership in a terror organization, namely Kahane’s party.
Please note that Ben Gvir has acknowledged having a picture in his home of Baruch Goldstein, the Kahane follower who massacred 29 Palestinians while they were praying at a mosque in Hebron in 1994. Ben Gvir first gained notoriety in 1995, as a radical opponent of the Oslo peace process, when he stole the hood ornament from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s car and said, “We got to his car, and we’ll get to him, too.” Weeks later, Rabin was assassinated by a member of a group that also had roots in Kahanism.
Netanyahu didn’t reluctantly agree to take such people in; he worked very hard to get them to join him. As JTA reports, “Netanyahu has made tireless efforts to unite Jewish Power and two other radical right-wing, pro-settler parties into one party. Netanyahu made phone calls to rabbis and family members of party members and issued numerous public statements calling on them to unite. He signed a formal agreement with the united ultra-right-wing party promising its members two ministerial posts in the next government, the housing and education ministries.” Yes, a hateful racist will be in charge of Israel’s education system. Bibi even promised them two seats in the Security Cabinet, the small group of select cabinet ministers who meet to decide important security matters facing Israel.
Bibi did all this because he cares not about democracy or Jewish values or strengthening Israel but cares solely to make sure the right-wing bloc in the Knesset gets at least a 61-member majority. Such a majority will allow him to stay in power and face a potential corruption indictment against him from a position of greater strength.
As much as I have been critical of him, even I was blown away by this act of total self-interest and total disregard of the interests of the Jewish state, the meaning of the Jewish state, the image of the Jewish state. Bibi is running with the equivalent of the KKK. Bibi is in bed with people who have been labeled terrorists and banned from entering the United States.
How much a danger these racists are to Israeli democracy, how ignorant they are of democracy, not to mention Jewish values, can be seen by the fact that the Jewish Power Party has filed a $27.6 million lawsuit against a respected religious-Zionist rabbi for slander over his Shabbat morning sermon. Rabbi Benny Lau told his congregants that voting for The Jewish Power party was like backing Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws.
Agree with him or not, that’s what free speech is all about. A rabbi in Israel should be free to say whatever he wants, express what he feels, give guidance based on Jewish values.
Interestingly, they sued him for his Shabbat sermon, but did not sue him for his posts on social media including one that said “the defilement and destruction of the land serves as a guarantee for the loss of the land.”
Meir Kahane was banned from Israel politics and slammed by Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir because of his racism. Now his spiritual heirs have been embraced by Likud Prime Minister Bibi and might well be part of the Israeli government not in spite of but because of their racism.
Bibi, a wily politician, figures there are voters out there who will find him being in bed with them appealing. And since for the first time ever he faces a serious challenger in the new Blue and White Party headed by a former army chief of staff; and faces indictment for committing fraud and other crimes, he clearly will do anything, hug anyone, and appeal to anyone to keep himself in power.
How bad this is is seen by the fact that Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who never criticizes Bibi, called the political deal “very disturbing.” “He obviously has some political calculation that drove him to it, but politics can’t dictate everything,” Hoenlein said. Even AIPAC, which has become totally right wing and backs whatever Bibi dishes out, agreed with the American Jewish Committee’s declaring that Jewish Power’s ideas are “reprehensible.”
We have seen the cost of Bibi’s undemocratic and unJewish behavior over and over, and saw it yet again recently when The Zionist Federation of Australia called for the firing of an Israel deputy minister and for Israel to stop delaying the extradition of a woman accused of molesting several girls while the principal of a haredi Orthodox girls’ school in Australia.
Police suspect Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the head of the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, of attempting to pressure the Jerusalem district psychiatrist into falsely stating that Malka Leifer is mentally unfit to be extradited to Australia to stand trial. “Leifer’s extradition has been a frustratingly drawn out process which has inflicted further pain and suffering on her victims,” the ZFA said in a statement.
Litzman’s meeting with the key witness in the extradition case could constitute obstruction of justice. He also is accused of threatening other medical professionals at the ministry if they did not write reports in a way favorable to Leifer.
Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 amid allegations that she had sexually abused students at the Adass Yisroel School in Melbourne. She is wanted on 74 charges of child sexual abuse in that city. She was arrested in Israel in 2014 and then released after being deemed mentally unfit for the legal proceedings. She was rearrested last year after an undercover investigation found that she lived a normal life and was mentally fit to face extradition proceedings.
So don’t feel all superior about the mess in the Catholic Church. Not when an Israeli cabinet minister is lying and cheating to protect a suspected sex abuser, protecting her from justice in the country where its Jews want her to stand trial.
That’s the kind of thing that happens when Jewish values are ignored, when democratic values are discarded, when everything becomes about staying in office, where nothing is too sick to do if it enhances one’s power.
If Bibi has his way and the Israeli equivalents of David Duke and the KKK become part of the Israeli government, what happens next, G-d, who you just know is disappointed in his people right now, only knows. “I never thought I would see this day,” Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-Israeli author who was a follower of Kahane in his youth and now stridently opposes the ideology, said. “Every society has its fringe fanatics. But what Prime Minister Netanyahu has done, because he’s desperate, because he’s in an increasingly tight political race, is open the door to evil.”